South Africa - Durban - 28 November 2018 - A workman on a tractor in sugar cane fields in the Umhlali area, North Coast, KwaZulu Natal. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
DURBAN - A sugar cane farmer from Mandini in KwaZulu-Natal said “the future looks bleak” for farmers because they will not be able to survive a continuous drought.

Francis Moonsamy, who owns 40ha of sugar cane land, was speaking as the world shines a spotlight on the importance of water today, which is World Water Day.

He said farmers were still recovering from previous droughts and were currently faced with dry weather conditions brought on by El Niño.

Moonsamy said farmers might be forced to retrench workers.

“These workers rely on farmers as their sole form of employment in most parts of rural, coastal KZN,” he said.

Dr Mandla Buthelezi, the KZN chairperson of the National African Farmers Union, said they were getting bad reports from farmers across KZN who found themselves in a very difficult situation as a result of the drought.

“Farmers in the interior, as well as farmers along the coastal regions from north to south, are feeling the pinch.

“People at Manguzi, Umhlabuyalinga and Jozini areas are suffering very badly,” said Buthelezi.

He said some farmers did not have enough capital to sustain their livestock in terms of feed and said some farmers were going out of business.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the SA Weather Service’s (Saws) rainfall and temperature forecast until next month indicated that above-normal rainfall was expected for most of KZN.

“However, the temperature forecast indicates above-normal temperatures over the same period and this is likely to cause high evaporation rates on dam surfaces,” he said.

Harichunder added that last year, a Saws assessment between July and December indicated that there was below-normal rainfall over large parts of the country.

“Most areas within Umgeni Water’s operational area got below to near- normal rainfall during this period, with isolated areas in Northern KZN receiving above-normal rainfall,” he said.

The Mgeni system is the largest in KZN and serves the water needs of an estimated 6million consumers through the Water Services Authorities of eThekwini Metro, uMgungundlovu District Municipality, Ugu District Municipality and Msunduzi Muni- cipality.

Harichunder said Umgeni Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation would run hydrological models in May to assess the amount of water available in the Mgeni system.

He said the findings would indicate whether measures would be required to manage or reduce consumption.

“Total combined storage in the Mgeni system has to be at 67% or more in order to avoid restrictions,” he said.

Harichunder said the current total storage in the Mgeni system was at 67.95%.

“Current storage availability means there is no or minimal risk of prolonged supply failure over the next two years, based on current demand and consumption.”